Good Research Paper About HIV In Today’s Society
Thesis statement: Individuals diagnosed as HIV-positive can now live long and productive lives. Breaking the stigma of HIV, dispelling baseless myths, taking antiviral drugs and living a healthy lifestyle are keys to ensure that an HIV patient would live a long and normal life.
The past two decades have seen the improvement on the projection of individuals found positive with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). A report prepared and released by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), majority of HIV patients have lifespans that extend beyond 15 years with the use of medication. However, HIV patients are most of the time victims of the stigma attributed to their condition. Oftentimes, these stigmas are caused by false information that inflicts emotional pain to the patient. Mindful and accurate information dissemination is key towards dispelling the myths about HIV and in providing the right information about what HIV is really all about. While no specific medication is yet available to cure HIV, there are antiviral drugs that can control, if not alter, the progression of HIV. Aside from medication, healthy diet and proper lifestyle are keys to normal lifespan.
Breaking the Stigma of HIV
HIV is fluid-borne, through blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. The common means of passing HIV from one person to another is through unprotected intercourse, using the same needles, and drug works. A mother can also pass HIV to her child while still pregnant, while giving birth or through breastfeeding. The stigma associated with HIV affects the lives of people with this condition. The stigma exists in different ways and people with HIV are often ostracized, rejected and discriminated by society.
Hope is not far from the grasp of these individuals under the stigma. HIV patients could break free from the stigmas with help from the government, private sectors, and other concerned groups and individuals (Wolny, 2015). Farnan and Enriquez (2012) reported that eliminating HIV stigma is possible if people started to learn more about this condition. It is imperative that people should stop asking "why?" and instead focus on making commitment to try to help people learn about HIV, learn how people get "HIV," help them understand that they cannot get HIV from talking to people with HIV, from hugging people with HIV, from being friends with people with HIV, and that there is great treatment available for HIV disease so that people who do have HIV can live long, healthy and productive lives. Thus, the first step towards ending HIV stigma and getting over any "phobia" is for people to have honest conversation. With effective communication, the HIV stigma could be eliminated.
Morisky (2006) noted that governments should push the promotion of antidiscrimination laws and communities in the national and international levels. The various international human rights treaties, conventions and covenants that many countries have signed, as well as HIV-AIDS resolutions passed by the United Nations Human Rights Commissions, should be more effectively disseminated in order to create awareness, influence change, and inform that general public about the law reform process. Furthermore, general health sector and its service organization should be encouraged to review their policies, professional codes of conduct, and practices to prevent and redress stigma and discrimination. Training of healthcare providers is necessary to deal with AIDS stigma; policies and procedures also need to be established for action against those who breach agreed upon policies.
In the workplace, employees and employers should be sensitive to issues regarding stigma, discrimination, and people’s rights with respect to HIV and AIDS. This will help reduce stigma and promote the positive attitudes necessary for an effective work environment and above all a healthier life (Morisky, 2006).
There is not a single concrete answer on how to ease the pain within inflicted by the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS. Having a strong support group from families, friends, and professional healthcare providers is a good part. Thus, individuals with a family member or friend who is suffering from HIV-AIDS need to understand the pain that he or she is going through. This is the first step to give that person the opportunity to live a normal and productive life.
Myths about HIV-AIDS Dispelled
The stigma on HIV exists because of the false information that a lot of people though were true. In their book, Irwin, Millen and Fallows (2003) discussed and rebutted the myths about HIV. Here are some popular misconceptions about HIV and AIDS and why people should not believe them.
Having HIV Means You Have AID
HIV destroys the CD4, a type of immune cell responsible for keeping the body disease free. Being HIV positive does not mean a person also has AIDS. HIV progresses into AIDS in the absence of awareness and medications, when this happens, a patient acquires opportunistic infections and the body’s immune cell count drops lower than 200.
HIV is Communicable through Kissing
Many wrongly believe that hugging a person, using the same towel, or sharing the same glass can transmit HIV virus from one person to another. HIV-AIDS, rather, is transmitted through unprotected sex, sharing needles, or getting a tattoo from unsterilized equipment.
You Have Just a Few Years to Live
A number of people found to be HIV-positive were found to have lived for decades and still enjoying a normal way of life.
HIV-AIDS is Detected with the Manifestations of Symptoms
There are individuals who do not manifest signs or symptoms of HIV and this could go on for years, although there are those who show symptoms just 10 days or a few weeks after being infected. The initial symptoms are usually flu, fever, fatigue, rash, and sore throat. These conditions eventually subside but could show off again in time. The best way to determine if a person is HIV-positive is to get examined.
There is Cure for HIV
No cure is available for HIV although an HIV positive can get treated to control the virus’ levels and keep the immune system robust.
There are as yet no medicines that can cure HIV, but there are antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) that work as follows, according to Page, Louw and Pakkiri (2006): they control the way the virus reproduces, thereby, significantly reducing the viral load; they slow down those effects of the virus that weaken the immune system; and, they delay the progress from being HIV positive to AIDs, thereby, prolonging the life considerably.
When they were first developed, taking ARVs meant taking many pills, sometimes a whole handful at a time, and many of them had dreadful side effects, but as more medical research is being done, they are becoming easier to administer. There are now fewer tablets to take, they are smaller and easier to swallow and they have fewer side effects. People who take ARVs often say that they experienced many side effects when they started taking the medicines, but that the side effects went away after a few months (Page, Louw, Pakkiri, 2006).
Despite what looks like a very complicated routine for taking ARVs, there are enormous advantage. First, people remain healthier for much longer, and most are able to lead a perfectly normal life, working, contributing to the family income and raising their families. Being productive and healthy also means there is less chance of a person living with HIV/Aids becoming depressed. Furthermore, ARVs reduces the viral load, so there is also less risk of infecting others with the virus (Page, Louw, Pakkiri, 2006).
Lifestyle of an HIV Patient: On Nutrition, Dating and Sex
Aside from medication, being mindful of diet, lifestyle and sexual activities are keys to prolonging the lives of people with HIV-AIDS. The following are some recommendations that an HIV positive might want to integrate in his or her lifestyle.
Maintaining Healthy Body
Page, Louw and Pakkiri (2006) discussed the measures an HIV positive could take to keep his body healthy and strong. They include: getting adequate sleep, taking enough exercise, healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and smoking, avoiding non-medicinal drug use, particularly those that are not proven effective, avoiding contact with people with illness and infection, visiting the doctor regularly, treating infections and diseases as soon as possible, keeping good hygiene, and practicing safe sex.
Following a Healthy Diet
There is a strong link between the diet and the state of the immune system. Research has shown that the immune system of an HIV-positive stays healthier for much longer if a healthy diet is followed. Recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating foods that are high in protein, such as lentils, beans, meat, fish and eggs; eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and foods that are high in vitamins and minerals (Page, Louw and Pakkiri, 2006). Microbes on food can cause disease, and so it is important to prevent contamination with the following guidelines for food hygiene.
Research has shown that alcohol suppresses or weakens the immune system. The liver plays an important role in protecting the body against toxins, and so it is important for anyone, but especially those who are HIV positive, to keep their liver healthy. Alcohol damages the liver. A person who becomes intoxicated may also behave irresponsibly by having protected sex, or by not looking after himself.
Tobacco smoking suppresses/weakens the immune system. A number of opportunistic infections can be linked to the breathing system, which smokes damages. Smoking increases the risk of opportunistic infections of the lungs, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Avoiding Non-Medicinal Drugs
The use of nonmedicinal drugs, such as dagga, suppresses / weakens the immune system. People who are under the influence of drugs can behave an irresponsible manner, and they could possibly have unprotected sex, or not look after themselves.
Avoiding Opportunistic Infections
Avoiding people with infectious diseases, maintaining good hygiene at home, routine visits to the doctor or clinic and treating any infections as soon as possible are all important actions for the same reason as HIV positive has a weakened immune system, so it important to avoid possible situations that could lead to an infection. Furthermore, the immune system's response to any infection is to produce more white blood cells. As HIV replicates into the white blood cells, infections can lead to an increase in the person's viral load. With good hygiene, a patient can stay away from the risk of infection (Page, Louw, and Pakkiri, 2006).
Practicing Safe Sex
Practicing safe sex will reduce the risk of re-infection. When the virus replicates in the body, it mutates and so in any HIV-positive person may have many variations of the virus. The body's immune system has to adapt to fight each form of the virus, which puts further strain on the immune system. If two HIV-positive people have unprotected sex, they will re-infect each other with all the various different forms of the virus that either may have. This will put even more strain on the immune systems and increase their viral loads. A person with multiple or superior infection has higher chances of dying of AIDS very quickly.
Farnan, Rose and Enriquez, Maithe (2012). KnowHIV/AIDS. New York: Demos Medical Publishing.
Irwin, Alexander, Millen Joyce, and Fallows, Dorothy (2003). Global Aids: Myths and Facts. Canada: Southend Press.
Morisky, Donald E. (2006). Overcoming AIDS: Lessons Learned from Uganda. Information Age Publishing.
Page, Jenny, Louw, Maylani, Pakkiri, Delene. (2006). Working with HIV/AIDS. Cape Town: Juta and Company, Ltd.
Wolny, Philip. (2015). I Have an STD. Now What? New York: The Rosen Publishing.
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